For years he wowed us with his prowess in the pool and his mental fortitude. Now former Olympian Ian Thorpe is taking the skills he mastered as an athlete and bringing them to the boardroom with his business Beon.
Launched in 2018 with business partners, former Australian cricketer Shane Watson and psychologist Dr Jacques Dellaire, Beon aims to harness people’s innate potential to teach them how to achieve performance excellence.
It’s a mindset Thorpe knows a lot about. Having spent years of his life training to be an elite sportsman, the former swim champ understands just how important mind over matter can be. It’s the secret sauce that can be the key to success in all areas of life. Yet it wasn’t ‘til he began working his way through business partner Dr Jacques Dellaire’s techniques that Thorpe had his first real ‘aha’ moment.
“When Shane first introduced me to Jacques and we had these meetings over Skype I remember doing this internal eye roll,” Thorpe recalls. “It wasn’t until later as I worked through the steps of the program and then applied it to a TV show I was working on, Bullied, that I realised this was really something – and something that I also wanted to share.”
Realising that the anxieties and pressures that come around performance are applicable in every different field, Warson, Dellaire and Thorpe set up Beon as a performance coaching business for executives and teams. The objective: to give people the skills to push through what is holding them back, to focus, refine and perform at their A-game.
Thorpe soon discovered fear of failure was a common theme.
“We’d go into these sessions and ask, ‘What is holding you back from achieving your goals?’ and often it was fear of failure. So, first we teach them what they can do then and there. if you are focusing on the result you can’t concentrate on what you need to do in the moment to deliver.”
It’s a lesson Thorpe wished he had learnt in the pool. “It’s the same in sport – you shouldn’t focus on the result. If I had known then what I know now, I would have swum better and competed for longer,” he says.
Thorpe explains working with Jacques has been lifechanging – and sharing his techniques with business owners is similarly fulfilling. Since launching the business the trio have been in demand, leading sessions with sporting clubs, ASX listed companies and even taking their coaching techniques into schools.
“If you go through our program we guarantee that in 30 days you will feel like you are really ‘on’,” Thorpe enthuses. “And once you understand the techniques you can snap into it. We get emails from people after our sessions and they say ‘this has been life changing for me’. We see everyone have a big ‘aha moment’ – and then people start to sit up and realise change is possible. They have a breakthrough.”
Thorpe says oftentimes it is taking control of that inner critic that is the first step.
“It’s that mind chatter that we all have. Do you know how much time you spend talking down to yourself? Imagine if you spent the same amount of time talking yourself up.”
While this may sound like Thorpe has taken a leaf out of some new age self-help book, he assures Kochie’s Business Builders the techniques are based upon sound psychological practices. Before Beon commences work the clients undertake a psychological self-assessment test. A personal program is then tailored to ensure they will meet their peak performance. Oftentimes Thorpe will share his own experiences to illustrate the difference a mindset can make.
“It helps open things up – helps them understand how they can make changes and what they need to do. What we teach is not that difficult – but knowing you have the support in place makes all the difference.”
Thorpe believes the techniques participants learn with Beon are easily transferrable to all businesses and all areas of life.
“I’m a retired athlete now. And I do all these things in the corporate world, but for me, this is very rewarding. I can see how it changes people in just one day. And I’ve always enjoyed helping people, so Beon is a perfect fit.”
Similarly, he sees his role as an Optus ambassador as apt too, given the telco’s connection to sports and small business – his two loves.
“Optus is a great supporter of sport, so it means I can keep one finger in the pie – and they provide excellent services for smaller businesses.”
As for his advice to small business owners who might be doing it tough, Thorpe suggests persistence is key, while maintaining good mental health is also essential.
“Definitely make sure you have some balance between work life and private life,” he concludes.